Growing up we had a large, really old cherry tree and every year my sisters and I would climb the tree to pick as many cherries as we could. We would rush the cherries into my mother who made the best Cherry Pie ever. My mother's pie crust was hands down my favorite and I have never been able to duplicate it nor have I tasted one as good.
That old cherry tree we had growing up finally split down the middle and died and that was a sad day indeed.
I now have my own cherry tree and it was beautiful this year in full bloom. I'm hoping the crop is plentiful and I'm able to pick lots of fresh cherries! Cherries are usually ripe in June in my area of Ohio.
Legend has it that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree when he was very young. I tend to believe the story and that he was truthful about it. I have a similar tale about an axe, my son, a group of young boy scouts and cutting trees they shouldn't have. My son was very truthful about what happened and who all wielded the ax, including himself, but that's a story for another day.
Fresh cherries are always best, including home picked or from a farm market but store purchased cherries will work too (even frozen).
|Cherries picked fresh from the tree|
Making Cherry Pie Filling is pretty easy and it's great to have jars of your own canned filling to use for pies, cobblers or desserts.
Cherries are a high acid food so can be safely water bath canned, which I love.
Traditionally, sour cherries are used for pie filling but you can use sweet cherries like bing which are great for dessert toppings.
Info on Clear Jel:
Cornstarch and flour are not considered safe for canning. Clear Jel is the only product recommended safe by The National Center for Home Food Preservation to use for canning pie filling.
Clear Jel is not the same as Sure Jel. Clear Jel is a modified cornstarch made to withstand the heat of canning. It stirs in and dissolves well with no clumping. Be sure to purchase the regular type Clear Jel, not instant.
Again the regular is made to withstand the high temperatures of canning. The instant is for thickening gravies and other non-canned food items.
Clear Jel can be found in bulk food or Amish type stores. Or just order on-line, I purchased mine from Barry Farm.
Cherry Pie Filling
- 6 quarts of Cherries (sour for pie filling or sweet for desserts)
- 7 cups sugar
- 1-3/4 cups Clear Jel
- 9-1/3 cups water (or cherry juice)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon - optional
- 2 teaspoon Almond extract – optional
- ¼ teaspoon red food coloring - optional
How to Make:
Wash and pit cherries.
I purchased a couple cherry stoners (or pitters) for us to use and they work pretty well. They do occasionally rip the cherry so if perfectly round and whole cherries is the look you're after you may want to hand pit the cherries.
|Cherry Stoner or Pitter|
Place pitted cherries in boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Drain. Cover with lid to keep warm and set aside.
Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large pan. Add water and cook over medium heat stirring constantly. You can also use pure cherry juice in place of the water for added flavor. Boil until it begins to thicken and bubble, then add the lemon juice. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cinnamon and almond extract if desired. Add red food coloring if desired. (I did not add the food coloring to mine).
|Cook sugar, Clear Jell and spices|
Reduce heat and add cherries, stirring gently to mix.
Keep warm and fill hot jars with hot cherry pie filling leaving a 1-inch head space. Remove any air bubbles then wipe the rims of the jars.
|Gently add cherries to sugar broth|
Apply the two piece lids just until finger tip tight and then process for 30 minutes in a water bath canner.
Store any leftover or extra pie filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Remove jars from canner and allow to cool. Check that all are sealed after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when pressed in the center. Do not tighten the lid band. Store in a dark, cool, dry pantry or storage area.
One Quart for One Pie
3 1/3 cups cherries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon Clear Jel
1 1/3 cups water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
¼ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
4 – 6 drops red food coloring (optional)
Follow directions above but do not water bath can, instead use in a pie or store in the refrigerator.